Wenonah, N.J. residents not happy with possible police merger

- A tiny south Jersey town is looking to break up its local police department and merge with a neighboring town to help save money. Not everyone is on board with the idea.

When there is talk about dumping a local police department, it becomes a very big deal, especially in a tiny town like Wenonah, New Jersey.

The mayor announced the plan to disband and merge the police department with a neighboring department April 12.

Drive too fast and a person could drive right past the tiny borough of Wenonah. It’s a tree-lined town of about 850. It’s a little less than a square mile. According to its mayor, Wenonah also has a police force it can no longer afford.

“As Mayor, I must pursue and explore all cost savings. Police services are no exception,” said Mayor John Dominy.    

Residents packed a standing room only special meeting Thursday at Borough Hall to hear the bombshell. A plan to dismantle Wenonah’s 6-person police department and pay neighboring Mantua Township to handle its police work.

“We’re the taxpayers and what we want should matter because it’s our money you are using,” exclaimed one resident.

Despite what the borough says would be a cost savings of up to $450,000 a year. Residents say a local police force is one reason they moved to Wenonah.

“I think police is a priority for safety. We are a small town, but nevertheless we need security and the police department is it,” said resident Tom Brett.

“My wife called 911 and they responded literally a minute after we hung up the phone. I don’t think you’ll get that with an outside force,” another resident, Ed Krause, said.

The Mayor says the move would bring more resources like a K9 unit and a staff of commanders that a smaller department could never afford.

“They are not going to lose police protection. They are going to have the same quality level of police protection with greater resources, but they are going to be paying a lot less,” Mayor Dominy explained.

A vote on the new police force may happen in a couple of weeks and if it does, Mantua Police could be patrolling the streets of Wenonah by next month.
 

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